This post is written by Katie Huston, marketing coordinator for Experience Columbus. You can follow her on Twitter @hustonkat.
When warm weather arrives in Central Ohio, why not take advantage of every opportunity to spend time outdoors? Lucky for us, there are many great parks in the city that offer fun activities and events all summer long.
Bicentennial Park This 4.66-acre park is a downtown destination featuring a one-of-a-kind fountain, park restaurant (Milestone 229) and an outdoor performance pavilion. The stunning 15,000-square-foot Scioto Mile Fountain shoots more than 1,000 jets of water and is interactive and accessible for visitors of all ages, making it a perfect spot for free summer fun.
FountainSide is a free event series at the Scioto Mile Fountain on select Wednesdays throughout the summer, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Bring your kids for an array of themed activities, games, crafts and water play.
Make the most of your summer evenings by attending a Rhythm on the River performance with friends and family. A variety of performing artists will take the stage at the Performing Arts Pavilion throughout the summer, ranging from bluegrass to blues to ballet and more.
And finally, don’t miss the 2015 Columbus Arts Festival, happening along the Riverfront June 12-14. There’s something for everyone here with displays from more than 300 nationally acclaimed artists, gourmet fare from some of the city’s finest restaurants, live concerts, dance and theatre performances, film screenings, hands-on activities and more.
Columbus Commons Columbus Commons is a 7-acre green space in the heart of downtown featuring a performance space, Columbus Bicentennial Pavilion, a hand-carved carousel, an outdoor reading room, world-class gardens designed and maintained by the Franklin Park Conservatory and more. Every Thursday from May 7 through Oct. 29 (11 a.m.-2 p.m.), the Commons is transformed into a Food Truck Food Court. Here you’ll find a plethora of local food trucks serving up some of the best eats Columbus has to offer.
Can’t get enough of the food truck phenomena? Be sure to catch the 5th Annual Columbus Food Truck Festival Aug. 14-16 for entertainment, live music, crafts and delicious grub from more than 70 of Ohio’s best food trucks.
Eat your fill then work off the calories at one of the seven free fitness classes offered at the Commons each week. Simply complete the online registration form and you’ll have access to all classes throughout the season, which runs from May 4 through Sept. 26 and includes popular workouts such as Boot Camp, Yoga and Zumba.
Family Fun Days and free outdoor movie nights offer fun for all ages at the Commons. On Saturday, May 23, stop by the park early to enjoy a day of free and ticketed events at Family Fun Day (4-8 p.m.), including inflatables, carousel rides, a petting zoo and much more. Stick around afterward for a free showing of Big Hero 6 at 8:15 p.m. Check the schedule for other movie nights happening throughout the summer, and don’t miss the fall-themed Family Fun Day on Oct. 3.
Tap into your cultural side with the Actors’ Theatre of Columbus in its fourth season at the park. Choose from six performance nights happening Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 11-20 at 7 p.m. You’ll also want to catch Picnic with the Pops, which features a terrific lineup of acclaimed artists and the renowned Columbus Symphony Orchestra with performances at 8 p.m. throughout the summer.
Goodale Park Goodale Park is the oldest park in Columbus, serving as an anchor on the south end of Victorian Village, recently named among the 10 most beautiful neighborhoods in America by the Huffington Post. Beyond its recreational features such as the pond, gazebo and tennis courts, this park is popular for its view of the Columbus skyline and its central location.
Among the park’s most notable events is the Midwest’s largest Pride Festival, which attracts more than 300,000 people each year. This free event includes a parade on Saturday, along with more than 180 vendors, two music stages and a family area, all happening June 19-21, 2015.
Also happening in Goodale Park every summer is Community Festival, better known as ComFest. This three-day festival will run from June 26-28 this year and is the nation’s largest independent volunteer-run festival. ComFest brings art and music to Columbus and encourages festival-goers to “party with a purpose.” The Goodale Park Music Series presents free concerts each summer featuring Columbus performers in addition to live art, craft vendors, kids’ activities and food carts. The park also hosts several outdoor movie nights, known as Screen on the Green. 2015 details for these events coming soon.
Schiller Park Schiller Park is the second oldest in the city and the jewel of German Village, with a recreation center, picnic areas, softball diamonds, fishing pond and beautifully landscaped gardens. During the summer months, the Actors’ Theatre of Columbus presents Shakespeare in the Park on Thursday-Sunday nights at 8 p.m. on the amphitheater stage.
Frank Fetch Park is just a short walk away and holds free concerts on the third Sunday of each month, June-September. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets and refreshments and enjoy some great entertainment in this beautiful park.
For more information on everything happening in Columbus this summer, be sure to check out the events calendar on experiencecolumbus.com.